Some of the actors who appear in “Innocence of Muslims” are speaking out against it, and are claiming that they were duped into believing that the project was a more generic, albeit shoddily produced, film about the ancient Middle East.
Tim Dax, who has acted in gay porn, told the blog Joe.My.God that he never “saw a full script or any lines after the day we shot them.” He said that he was paid for a week and a half of work (at $75 per day), and that the voice over work in the film is “dubious at best.” The project, he wrote in an email to the blog, also had a different title, “Desert Storm.” An actress in the movie, Cindy Lee Garcia, told Gawker that she had no idea that the movie would portray the prophet Muhammad.
“It was going to be a film based on how things were 2,000 years ago,” Garcia said. “It wasn’t based on anything to do with religion, it was just on how things were run in Egypt. There wasn’t anything about Mohammed or Muslims or anything.”
Gawker also has posted a 2011 casting notice for the project, with a series of roles but no performer playing Muhammad. It says that the project would shoot for 18 days in August of last year, was open to SAG and non-SAG actors and that it would be called “Desert Warrior.” The director is listed as Alan Roberts.
With the cast and crew having issued a statement on Wednesday claiming that they were “grossly misled about its intent and purpose,” it raises the question of whether they would have some kind of legal recourse against its makers, whose identities still are the subject of some mystery.
Alan Brunswick, labor and employment attorney at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, is skeptical and says that this “might be a tough case for them.” On sets, he wrote via e-mail, “scripts are changed on set quite frequently, so not sure that means that she or anyone else was duped.”
Jonathan Faber, an attorney with Luminary Group who specializes in the right of publicity, said that an obvious starting point is in what contracts they may have secured.
“If they signed an agreement and gave full editorial rights, as likely could be the case, then it would be hard for them to claim after the fact that a wrong was committed,” he wrote via email. “It could come down to a question of degree — almost every actor cedes editorial discretion to the director — but to what extent were they misled and misrepresented? If that could be substantiated, the claim could sound in right of publicity and right of privacy. There could be some difficulty in navigating possible exemptions for movies in a given state’s right of publicity statute — but we have determined what state such a claim could be brought in, for one thing.”
It’s not hard to see why some of the actors are stepping forward: “Innocence of Muslims” may be the most exposure their careers have ever gotten, but it’s not the kind of attention that they ever wanted.